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Wilbur Little

A versatile bassist who played in countless configurations throughout his profession, Wilbur Small was at his best when performing section of a swinging tempo section that pushed in the limitations of very difficult bop. He was originally a pianist but turned to bass after offering in the armed service. Small shifted to Washington D.C. in 1949, where he caused Sir Charles Thompson, Leo Parker, the R&B-ish Griffin Brothers, vocalist Margie Day time, and Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams (1951-1953). Small spent a few years inside a trio that backed many going to players including Kilometers Davis and John Coltrane. The bassist became known after a three-year stint with J.J. Johnson’s quintet (1955-1958). Like a freelancer, Small performed numerous top music artists including Tommy Flanagan, Sonny Stitt, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Kenny Burrell, Elvin Jones, and Clark Terry. In 1976, he stopped at Japan with Duke Jordan and shifted to Amsterdam in 1977. In his old age, Small caused Charles Tolliver, Archie Shepp (with whom he documented in 1985), Clifford Jordan, and Barry Harris, amongst others. Although he under no circumstances led his personal session, he documented with many performers over time, including Bobby Jaspar, Tommy Flanagan, Randy Weston, and Al Haig.

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